Who is demeaned by flashes of flesh?

Andrew Bolt normally makes my blood boil. He’s probably Melbourne’s most right wing columnist. I’m never quite sure how much he believes what he writes or whether he just likes baiting those of us on the left.
So I was surprised to find myself agreeing with him, at least in part, when I read this piece on the frock Rebecca Twigley wore to the Brownlow presentation this week. The stunning bright red frock was cut to the waist in the front leaving her breasts to, as Bolt puts it, “play peakaboo from behind sashes or red jersey”. At one stage in the telecast Twigley crossed her arms in front her chest in an attempt to get a reprieve from the focus of the cameras on her cleavage.

Bolt accuses Twigley off being a little too innocent when she claims it must have been the bright red that caused all the attention. By implication he suggests she knew very well what she was doing when she chose to wear the dress. I’m not sure on this one. Maybe she did, maybe she didn’t.
It has puzzled me for years how women will wear something revealing or sexy and then return angry looks when they catch you glancing at their sexiness. Having four daughters of my own has helped me on the path of some sort of understanding.
At first, girls making the first steps into womanhood truly have no concept of the effect their young beautiful bodies have on men. But they want to be like other women so they try out different styles. Sometimes they want to be “sexy”. They start to realise that men are obsessed with women’s bits, particularl for most men, women’s boobs. But just as hard it is for us men to understand the mind of a woman, so it is for them to understand ours.
This was encapsulated for me many years ago by an incident that occured when my wife of a few months, myself and a female friend went for a walk along the beach while we were all on holiday together with a group of people around our age. This day it was just the three of us. When we got to the beach, we took off our t-shirts and shorts to go for a walk just wearing our bathers.
Our friend surprised us with a one piece the top part of which consisted of two strategically placed straps about an inch and a half wide. I tried not to stare at her as we walked along, but certainly glanced quite often. At one stage the conversation turned to what constituted sexiness – there being quite a few young women in brief bikinis and one-pieces on the beach that day. Our friend being interested in what I thought, represnting the male view.
I can’t remember the words I used but, trying to avoid discussing what she was wearing specifically, said something like any young woman in a brief swimsuit was sexy. (I guess I wanted to say “You are very sexy”, but I’m a shy sort of guy and besides my wife was there.) Even though I can’t remember the words I used, I can remember her reply and expression as clearly as if it were yestereday. She said, with a puzzled look “Even if you’re fat.” Now our friend was probably a size 10 with just about all the fat in her body in her nicely shaped breasts. It occured to me then that she had no concept that she was beautiful or attractive – although she was certainly both. She looked at herself, with a woman’s self critical eye.
Returning to Twigley, I’m prepared to give her the benefit of the doubt and allow that she was more likely thinking like our friend than setting out knowing the extent to which her revealing frock would turn heads. I think there is a good chance that she was genuinely surprised by the reaction and may still find it difficult to understand why the sight of her nearly naked body would cause so much attention. I might be wrong, but I like to be generous.
So I don’t agree with Bolt on this.
What I do agree with is that the reaction of men around Twigley is demeaning to men. The cameras followed her and focussed often on her chest. As Bolt points out, the other men’s partners would have been annoyed by the attention their men were paying to the bright red frock. Bolt again

all it takes for a woman to get the attention of serious men at a serious ceremony is a wink of her bright reds. It works so well – far better than a display of witty conversation or great learning – that it’s embarrassing. For men.

We really do need to be able to talk to women and not just their boobs.

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